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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

Embrace Uncertainty and Reject Writing Resistance

lost keys canstockphoto7358845 (2)If you ever put off writing because you didn’t know how to start, you know how intimidating the unknown is. We think we’re supposed to know what we’re going to write before we write it.

It’s not the uncertainty that stops us; it’s our fear of uncertainty.

There’s this myth that knowledge is power. That might be true for diplomats and CEOs, but for creatives, curiosity is power.

The myth tells us not knowing equals stupid. When we have to admit we don’t know something, we believe we are diminished.

On the contrary, not knowing is an opportunity!

Uncertainty is the tuition for discovery. You can’t find new territory without traveling into unknown lands. You can’t see new creative connections without abandoning, or being pushed beyond, what you know for sure.

(Likewise, fear is the tuition for courage. You can’t be courageous if you’re not also afraid.)

easter eggs canstockphoto3397918 (2)Keys or Easter Eggs?

People always say your lost keys will be in the last place you look – because who keeps looking once you’ve found what you were looking for?

As long as you’re certain, you don’t look for other possibilities. You maintain the status quo, which is antithetical to creativity. As long as you don’t see a  problem, you have no incentive to look at different, perhaps better, options.

How many eggs are in the photo?

When a problem does appear, conventional wisdom says go with the first solution. Once a problem is solved, why waste time continuing to look for more answers?

But the creativity required to write excellently doesn’t arrive in the first idea. The best writing comes from challenging yourself to see multiple perspectives, find multiple solutions and try different approaches in multiple drafts before narrowing in on what will become your final draft.

Writers who are content to send their first draft into the world are looking for a set of keys. Writers who seek to write exceptional manuscripts aren’t looking for keys, they’ve embarked on an Easter egg hunt, where multiple treasures can be found if they keep looking.

Are you looking for keys or Easter eggs?

By the way, did you see the green egg behind the flowers? Did you wonder how many eggs are outside the frame of the photo?

Find out why your own brain defaults to looking for keys in our next post.

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11 Comments on “Embrace Uncertainty and Reject Writing Resistance”

  1. Joel D Canfield June 5, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    My friend Rex Williams is writing a book about the power of curiosity.

    There is nothing wrong with ignorance. I love seeing it as an opportunity.


    • rosannebane June 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Please let me know when Rex’s book is available — that’s one I’ll want to buy right away.


      • Rex Williams June 13, 2013 at 3:04 am #

        Thanks Rosanne. Knowing I have at least one buyer makes me want to get cracking and finish.

        Excellent post. This definitely helps me see the entire editing and rewriting process as a joy (like Easter egg hunting) rather than a drudgery.

        I needed that.


        • rosannebane June 13, 2013 at 7:28 am #

          You’re welcome Rex. Thanks for appreciating the Easter egg hunt image. Let’s go egg hunting together — let me know (here or via email Rosanne @RosanneBane.com) when you find “eggs”.



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